Guests: Howard Fineman, Eugene Robinson, Chris Hayes, Christian Finnegan
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The confirmation hearings. Confirmation that the senior Republican is deliberately, knowingly twisting Sonia Sotomayor‘s words—words which condemn judging based on personal experience which he pretends were words endorsing judging based on personal experience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS ®, ALABAMA: Philosophy can impact your judging. I think it‘s much more likely to reach full flower if you sit on the Supreme Court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Confirmation—the dishonesty of Jeff Sessions, senator from Alabama. And a judge‘s calm, plotting, almost too gentle effort to disprove his lying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I do not believe that any ethnic, racial, or gender group has an advantage in sound judgment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Dick Cheney‘s got a secret. Now, “The Washington Post” confirms it was an assassination squad kept from Congress because it failed utterly. But CIA officials tell “Time” magazine it might have been another illegal use of the agency to spy on Americans.
What the hell, this is Dick Cheney, you‘re probably both right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIZ CHENEY, FMR. VICE PRES. CHENEY‘S DAUGHTER: The American people need to understand the very serious and grave damage this is doing to our intelligence ability.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But you are Liz and Dick Cheney—you don‘t have any intelligence ability.
Sarah Palin of “The Washington Post”—an op-ed on cap-and-trade. Is this the higher calling serving Alaskans, shilling for big oil?
And, is America crawling with cat people, stinking with centaurs, up to our butts in Man Bear Pig? Fortunately, Senator Sam Brownback has introduced the Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act of 2009, to ban the creation of human-animal hybrids, those part-human, part-animal creatures which are created in laboratories that blur the line between species.
Is this a huge problem—enough for Mary Landrieu to co-sponsor and Bunning and Cornyn and Inhofe and McCain and DeMint, and 14 other Republican Senators to sign on as sponsors? Was the island of Dr. Moreau and Dr. Mandry (ph) and nobody freaking told me?
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STEPHEN COLBERT, TV HOST: Lab-grown man-goat, Robert Bork.
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OLBERMANN: Wow. Apparently, it‘s worse than I suspected.
All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All those creatures.
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OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
According to the American Bar Association and others, she might be the most qualified judge nominated to the Supreme Court in 70 years. According to the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee—who himself was denied a federal judgeship by the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee two decades for being a racist—she is nothing more than a reverse racist, even after she fully explained herself to him—again.
Our fifth story on THE COUNTDOWN: The confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor, morphing today into the confirmation hearings of the prejudice, the narrowness, and the intellectual dishonesty of Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama.
Near the start of today‘s questions, the judge saying of her often-misquoted “wise Latina” statement, quote, “No words I have ever spoken or written have ever received such so much attention.” Her exchanges with the Republican members of the judiciary committee would bear that out, most especially, a lengthy dialogue with ranking Republican, Sessions of Alabama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOTOMAYOR: I assume, Senator, that you are referring to a remark that I made in a Duke Law student dialogue. I think if my speech is heard outside of the minute and a half that YouTube presents and its full context examined, that it is very clear that I was talking about the policy ramifications of precedent, and never talking about appellate judges or courts making the policy that Congress makes.
SESSIONS: Judge, I would just say, I don‘t think it‘s that clear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: True, Senator Sessions. If you do all of your research on YouTube, the senator was especially fond of quoting Sotomayor back to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESSIONS: But you repeatedly made this statement, quote, “I accept the proposition” - “I accept the proposition that a difference there will be, by the presence of women and people of color on the bench, and that my experiences affect the facts I choose to see as a judge.”
How is it appropriate for a judge ever to say that they will choose to see some facts and not others?
SOTOMAYOR: It‘s not a question of choosing to see some facts or another, Senator. I didn‘t intend to suggest that. And in the wider context, what I believe I was—the point I was making was that our life experiences do permit us to see some facts and understand them more easily than others. But in the end, you‘re absolutely right. That‘s why we have appellate judges.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Senator Sessions also seeking to discredit Judge Sotomayor by misquoting back to her past instances in which Sotomayor had reportedly taken issue with the views of another judge named Miriam Cedarbaum, which is when—as perfectly analogized by a blogger, Upper West, on “The Daily Kos” Web site—Judge Sotomayor experienced a real-life version of what Woody Allen created the movie “Annie Hall,” her version of his Marshal McLuhan moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESSIONS: In the past, you‘ve repeatedly said this, “I wonder whether achieving the goal of impartiality is possible at all in even most cases and I wonder whether by ignoring our differences, as women, men, or people of color, we do a disservice to both the law and society.”
I will just note, you made that statement in individual speeches about seven times over a number of years span, and it‘s concerning to me.
So I would just say to you, I believe in Judge Cedarbaum‘s formulation.
SOTOMAYOR: My friend, Judge Cedarbaum is here this afternoon, and we are good friends, and I believe that we both approach judging in the same way, which is looking at the facts of each individual case and applying the law to those facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Oh, I happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here.
And now, you‘re getting an idea why Senator Sessions was rejected by this committee in 1996 for a federal judgeship. Despite Judge Sotomayor‘s many explanations, that included the full context of her speech and otherwise answering Senator Sessions‘ half-hour‘s worth of questions, the man who could not win confirmation from the judiciary committee apparently hearing only what he wanted to hear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESSIONS: So, philosophy can‘t impact your judging. I think it‘s much more likely to reach full flower if you sit on the Supreme Court, and then you will—than it will on a lower court where you‘re subject to review by your colleagues in the higher court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The Democratic chairman of the committee, Senator Leahy of Vermont, then raising the Ricci case—Judge Sotomayor‘s rulings in the New Haven firefighter‘s reverse discrimination lawsuit, having been overturned two weeks ago by the Supreme Court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: How do you react to the Supreme Court‘s decision in the New Haven firefighters‘ case?
SOTOMAYOR: The issue was not what we would do or not do, because we were following precedent. The panel concluded that the city‘s decision in that particular situation was lawful under established law. The Supreme Court in looking and reviewing that case applied a new standard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: When Senator Sessions brought up Ricci, the leaders of the committee arguing with each other.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESSIONS: You must have agreed with it and agreed with the opinion and stayed with it until it was reversed by the court. Let me just mention this. In 1997.
LEAHY: Is that a question or a.
SESSIONS: Well, that was a response to some of what you said, Mr. Chairman, because you misrepresented factually what the—how the posture of the case.
SESSIONS: In 1997.
LEAHY: I obviously will disagree with that. But that—we‘ll have a chance to vote on this issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: If yesterday, meanwhile, Senator Graham could have been credited with a rare Republican moment of honesty; today, the South Carolina senator apparently having eaten a big old plate of crazy at lunch by raising anonymous criticism from lawyers about the temperament of the seemingly “always calm, ever-deliberate” nominee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOTOMAYOR: I do ask tough questions at oral arguments.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: Are you the only one that asks tough questions in oral arguments?
SOTOMAYOR: No, sir. No, not at all. I can only explain what I‘m doing which is, when I ask lawyers tough questions, it‘s to give them an opportunity to explain their positions on both sides and to persuade me that they‘re right.
Lots of lawyers who are unfamiliar with the process in the second circuit find that tough bench difficult and challenging.
GRAHAM: If I may interject, Judge, they find you difficult and challenging more than your colleagues. I never liked appearing before a judge that I thought was a bully. Do you think you have a temperament problem?
SOTOMAYOR: No, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Do I have to compare it to John McCain‘s temperament? And if you had Miguel Estrada in the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearing‘s drinking game, hope you‘ve enjoyed your two-day bender. Possibly the most absurd of several absurd Republican strategies officially entering into the record of the Sotomayor hearings, complaints about the Democrats having successfully filibustered the nomination of one of President Bush‘s appellate court nominees apparently because he, too, had a Hispanic name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: And I‘m puzzled why Mr. Estrada keeps coming up. Mr. Estrada had no judicial experience. The nominee before us has considerable judicial experience. Mr. Estrada wouldn‘t answer questions presented to him. This nominee, I think, has been very straightforward.
LEAHY: Well, we should remember that Mr. Estrada is not the nominee here. Just as with all the statements made about President Obama‘s philosophy, his confirmation hearing was last November.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Let‘s turn now to “Newsweek” magazine‘s senior Washington correspondent and political columnist, and MSNBC political analyst, Howard Fineman.
Howard, good evening
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Overall picture, first. Those who remember the name of the Democratic Senator John Stennis who was very hard of hearing and often asked for things to be repeated because, frankly, he admitted, he couldn‘t hear every word that was said. Are the Republicans on this committee trying to pretend to be him? It‘s as if they are only hearing every third thing that has been said.
FINEMAN: Well, I think—I think the point here is that their attempts to really hang the “wise Latina” remark and speech around judge Sotomayor. I was in the committee room all day today, it didn‘t feel like they really got to her—just the opposite, as a matter of fact.
Very carefully, very well-rehearsed, very well thought through. She followed an old practice—I know as a lawyer—called confession and avoidance. You admit the problem and you explain it with other facts. She said that the remark was a bad one because it gave the wrong impression. She said that she would not say that any ethnic, religious, or racial group or gender had any special purchase on justice.
And most important of all, she repeatedly cited—as did her Democratic allies—the more than 3,000 cases that she‘s been involved in as a district court judge and as an appellate judge in which is there is no evidence and the Republicans had no evidence that she was somehow allowing her biases or her personal emotions or her pride in being a Latina to somehow affect her judgment.
They don‘t have that case to make. This was all they had and it didn‘t feel in the courtroom like they really made it very well.
OLBERMANN: Did this other judge that they invoked work? And I mean Jose Cabranes—because at one point, Senator Sessions discussed her league in the second circuit and said, “Had you voted with Judge Cabranes,” who was a conservative judge, “himself of Puerto Rican ancestry, had you voted with him, you could have changed that case.”
How poorly executed was that strategy when it produces—in an attempt to prove racism, it instead seems to prove racism on the part of the person asking the question?
FINEMAN: Yes. I‘ve got to say, Keith, and this is perhaps a little mean, but it reminded me of the terrible press release put out by the swim club in Philadelphia about changing the complexion of the pool. It was way too revealing, and even some Republicans staffers were shaking their heads at that, because the point of that—about Cabranes, her fellow judge on the second circuit, had nothing to do with his ethnicity whatsoever. And thus, Senator Sessions was kind of betraying the kind of race-based thinking that he was criticizing Sotomayor for and it did undercut his credibility at that point.
OLBERMANN: And also, as we quoted this characterization in the blog about the Marshall McLuhan moment from “Annie Hall,” was—just the mechanics, leave out—leave out racism, leave out political wisdom of doing this, you know, the wise Alabamans in the audience, whatever you want -- leave it all out, just talk about political stagecraft.
Isn‘t it imperative, if you‘re going to invoke another judge and go, “I agree with that judge,” that you know whether or not that judge happens to be a really good friend of the judge.
OLBERMANN: . you‘re trying to humiliate and, oh, by the way, is sitting behind her and she can turn around and point to her and make you look like you—that you shouldn‘t be in that room unless you bought a ticket?
FINEMAN: Well, Keith, that‘s emblematic of the fact that although they spasmodically get critical, the Republicans here aren‘t really putting up a big fight about this. You don‘t hear anything from the RNC or very little. You don‘t hear anything from the Republican leadership in the Senate. The Republicans in this committee are not particularly well-organized and they‘re not that thorough, it seems to me.
Whereas the White House and the Democrats are really on the muscle here. They‘re issuing press releases every 10 minutes. They‘re running it like they run a spin room in a presidential debate. They‘re really on it, the Republicans are not.
They‘re really a little confused. The feeling in the room is one that they‘re sort of—to some extent—going through the motions, however odious those motions sometimes are.
OLBERMANN: Yes. And also, they probably didn‘t tell Senator Sessions that that was what the idea here was.
OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of “Newsweek” and MSNBC—thank you, Howard. Good night.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That there are no Senate-Cheney hearings going on defies all logic. “The Washington Post” now confirming that the program Cheney demanded the CIA keep secret from Congress was an assassination squad and the reason he demanded that it‘d be kept secret was what we guessed at here last night because it was lousy and ineffective.
But “Time” magazine is offering a comfortable alternative. Maybe it wasn‘t covert, Cheney-controlled sanction murderers, just a Cheney-controlled, specified illegal in the CIA charter, domestic spy operation. Whew! That‘s a relief.
OLBERMANN: Remember, the CIA never lied to Speaker Pelosi because the CIA does not lie. So when the CIA admitted it kept an operation secret from Congress for eight years at the behest of Dick Cheney, and Liz Cheney said that wasn‘t true, didn‘t she just say the CIA lies?
Later, in the middle of a million crises, these are the senators who know what‘s important: Brownback, Landrieu, Bunning, Burr, Chambliss, Coburn, Corker, Cornyn, DeMint, Ensign, Graham, Inhofe, Johanns, Kyl, Martinez, McCain, Risch, Thune, Vitter, Voinovich and Wicker—the sponsors of a vital legislation that will forever outlaw “Spider-Man” and manimals!
Oh, how I wish I were kidding. Ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: At some point in every labored right-wing contortion, the fabricators and spinners twist themselves around to such an extent that they find themselves with their metaphorical head up their metaphorical butt.
In our fourth story tonight: First, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi explained it was plausible that she did not know about CIA waterboarding because sometimes the CIA lies to Congress. The right-wing—which loves the government—said the CIA never lies to anybody.
Then the new CIA director told Congress, Dick Cheney ordered the CIA to lie—leaving daughter, Liz Cheney, today arguing that that‘s not true. In other words, the CIA is lying. Well played, Madam.
Miss Cheney filibustering on MSNBC today, claiming there is no evidence her father told the CIA to keep Congress in the dark. The word of the CIA, of course, not evidence to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “MORNING JOE”)
MIKA BRZEZINSKI, “MORNING JOE” CO-HOST: Was there any attempt by your father, in any way, to keep the CIA from telling congress information they should have heard?
LIZ CHENEY, FMR. VICE PRES. CHENEY‘S DAUGHTER: Well, I think you have to look, for example, at what General Hayden said yesterday. General Hayden, the former director of the CIA, came out publicly on the record and said he was under absolutely to restraint for briefing Congress, and that he had a series of triggers about when Congress needed to be briefed and that those triggers were not met with this particular program.
I think it does a disservice to former directors of the CIA to politicize this issue and I think it does a disservice to the Bush administration, frankly. We kept the nation safe for eight years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: First, Ms. Cheney, General Hayden became director of the CIA in 2006. That would be two years after George Tenet of the CIA shelled the program. Second, the very story in which Hayden is quoted said explicitly, quote—he, quote, “was speaking only” of his time at the agency and not of the early period after 2001 when Cheney might have intervened.
Third, Ms. Cheney, you have said before that Democrats politicized this by leaking details of the CIA program. No, CIA officials themselves brought this to Panetta‘s attention. The Democrats revealed only that they had been lied to.
Who revealed the details of the program? The intelligence officials did.
That also did not stop cohort Karl Rove from repeating the same mantra that Congress is not to be trusted with classified information, even though Rove and Cheney were at the center of leaking the covert operative Valerie Plame‘s identity.
Former White House counsel Alberto Gonzalez today—like Ms. Cheney - also not denying Mr. Panetta‘s story, but claiming he can‘t talk about it because it‘s classified. Circumspect now apparently after the Bush Justice Department found out that he had mishandled highly classified documents.
But fourth, Ms. Cheney, and most obscenely, you kept us safe for eight years? You let 3,000 people die. Your father delayed his first long-requested meeting about al Qaeda wait until September 10th. Your president told the CIA agent who tried to warn him about al Qaeda on August 6th that he was just covering his ass—you know, lying.
Let‘s bring in MSNBC political analyst Eugene Robinson, also associate editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of “The Washington Post.”
Gene, good evening.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So, the right-wing is now saying the CIA is lying when it says it lied—because the CIA never lies?
ROBINSON: You know, this is like one of those logic puzzles, you know? I am lying now, but you can‘t be lying, you must be telling the truth. Yes, it‘s a ridiculous position, I think, that is being taken here by Liz Cheney and one supposes, by Dick Cheney, although he‘s been talking about everything else, he doesn‘t seem to want to talk about this incident himself.
But the thing that drives me a bit nuts about this whole thing is the way that they—Cheney and Rove are creating the impression that, you know, the minute you brief the intelligence committees as required by law, everything that you tell them automatically leaks. That, obviously, is not the case. It is simply not true. And they‘re creating some impressions in order to justify what seems to have been an egregious violation of the statute in this case, which was to brief Congress on intelligence activities the way the law requires.
OLBERMANN: And the House Intelligence Committee, according to “The Associated Press” today, asked the CIA for documents, which would pave the way to investigate both exactly what this program was and how it was, in fact, concealed from Congress.
You appeared with Ms. Cheney on MSNBC this morning. Was it your sense that that is exactly what she was trying to prevent happening?
ROBINSON: My impression was that the creation of this kind of “wall of smoke” was to prevent a further investigation of exactly what happened. Did her father, in fact, tell the CIA not to disclose this program to the committees as was required by law? And is that not, or would that not have been a violation of law that would leave him open to some sort of sanction?
And you can‘t just—there‘s no point in having a law if the vice president—not just the president, mind you—but the vice president has no constitutional authority, really, to do anything, can just ignore it. It‘s outrageous to me.
OLBERMANN: Your newspaper today reported that the Bush administration kept this from Congress because the program, the al Qaeda assassination program or whatever it was called—that Dick Cheney‘s got a secret program. They kept it from Congress because it didn‘t get anywhere. “Time” magazine says the Bush CIA decided to go after al Qaeda, or that if they went after al Qaeda this way, it would be too risky.
Does this not sound in real life—from the pages of recent history - exactly like what the GOP always accuses Democrats of being, in caricature, soft and incompetent when faced with actual terrorists?
ROBINSON: Well, it does sound as if it may be this—the gang involved with this program couldn‘t shoot straight. But, again, we don‘t know, really, what it was. Presumably, there are a lot of intelligence programs that get started that don‘t work out quite the way they were intended, and that‘s to be expected if you‘re going to have a CIA, that not everything that it‘s going to try to do is going to work.
But if you‘re going to have a CIA, you do have to run it according to according to the law and you have to brief the intelligence committees, and that‘s really the violation here. And all this other stuff, you know, is ancillary, including this one, you know, we kept you safe for eight years—well, not quite eight years, as you pointed out. But that is beside the point. It‘s not the ends justifying the means; it‘s the law requiring actions that were not taken.
OLBERMANN: Well said. Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of “The Post” and also of MSNBC, when we‘re lucky enough to have him—thanks, as always, Gene.
ROBINSON: Good to be here, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Did you know the Berlin Wall was actually made out of giant dominos? It‘s true.
And an army reserve major is actually suing to stop President Obama from sending him to Afghanistan because—see, Obama isn‘t really president, see.
The Worst Person in the World ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Bests in a moment. If you‘re going to smuggle stuff in your golf clubs, be sure you know at least the best-known of golf terms.
First, the coincidence is hard to believe, but on this date in 1927 was born John Chancellor who anchored “NBC Nightly News” from 1970 to 1982, and on this date in 1917 was Douglas Edwards who anchored the “CBS Evening News” from 1948 to 1962. And on this date in 1914, was born George Putnam who delivered commentaries on “The Dumont Evening News” from 1948 to 1951, then anchored the local news in Los Angeles until 1975, and was one of Ted Knight‘s models for Ted Baxter.
Let‘s play Oddball.
We begin in Germany, where this year marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. To commemorate the historic reunification of the German capital, the event will be recreated by toppling 1,000 mattress-sized dominoes. Wee.
This is a dry run featuring just 100 dominoes. In November, the full thousand will line the route of the old wall, from the Reichstag, past the Brandenburg Gate to Potsdamer Platz (ph). Each domino will be custom painted by German high school students, students who only know about the wall from what they read in textbooks.
In fact, these kids weren‘t even born in 1989, when Ronald Reagan personally took a sledgehammer to the wall, while he whistled “Winds of Change” by the Scorpions.
To Aukland, New Zealand, where we meet Logan Campbell, who looks like he finished 16th for his country at last year‘s Beijing Olympic games as a feather weight Tai Kwan Do, but there‘s much more to his story. Desperate for the funds for a return to the London Olympics, Campbell has opened his own brothel. He expects London to cost twice the 100,000 dollars he spent to get to Beijing. And this time his parents are unwilling to foot the bill, but they say they are on board with the whore house.
Licensed prostitution is legal in New Zealand. Still the country‘s Olympic committee has to pick him for the team. That may or may not happen. Tune in to see if New Zealand lets the male Madame play at the 2012 Olympic games in London. Only on the networks of NBC.
OK, I‘m fired.
So, the Palin higher calling was to shill for big oil? Evidently, from the “Washington Post” op-ed she wrote.
And Senators Brownback and Landrieu, not shown in your picture, leading the gallant fight the prevent the creation of human/pig hybrid people porkers.
These stories ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world, humans only.
Dateline Houston, hello. Number three, best honest criminal, unnamed pistol-wielding stick-up man at the Campus (ph) bank on Tom Ball Parkway. He and his shotgun bearing partner made off with an unknown amount of cash. He told the victims, quote, I‘m only doing this to eat. They‘re not letting me work.
Dateline Manchester Airport, England, number two, best dumb criminal, Kayti Ella Dryer, drug mule. Arriving from Montego Bay, Jamaica with what turned out to be a kilo of cocaine hidden inside her golf clubs. Customs officials became suspicious when they asked her about her golf game. What‘s your handicap, they asked. She didn‘t know what they meant.
Dateline, Austin, Texas, number one, best George Orwell impersonation, the Texas State Board of Education‘s conservative members, who have proposed the following revisions to social study standards and textbooks in Texas; in the list of Americans who changed the course of history, replace Justice Thurgood Marshall with Sam Houston. On colonial history, delete all references to Anne Hutchinson, who was thrown out of Massachusetts Bay for teaching outside the official dogma.
For transformational leaders of the 20th century, insert the Reverend Billy Graham. For participation in the Democratic process, drop union activist Cesar Chavez. “He‘s hardly the kind of role model that ought to be held up for our children as someone worthy of emulation,” wrote one of the reviewers, the Reverend Peter Marshall. Of course not, because obviously televangelists meant more to this country than people who tried to end the virtual slavery of migrant farm workers.
He who controls the past controls the future.
OLBERMANN: When John McCain called Sarah Palin one of America‘s greatest energy experts, it was not because of her BS in communications. It was not because of her experience as a sportscaster. Her energy expertise began with a spot on an Alaska Oil and Gas Commission in 2004, a job she quit after less than one year.
Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, did the higher calling for which Palin just quit as governor include going back into the energy business in the role of shill? She wrote an op-ed piece in today‘s “Washington Post” using the sky is falling scare tactic to make her attack on cap and trade energy policy. Too bad the facts got in the way of the talking points.
Palin wrote, “I am deeply concerned about President Obama‘s cap and trade energy plan. The Americans hit hardest will be those already struggling to make ends meet.”
But according to the Congressional Budget Office, low-income people would end up paying less for energy under that Obama plan.
She wrote that job losses due to cap and trade were certain and that “even more American jobs would be threatened under the rising cost of doing business under the cap and tax plan.”
According to the Center for American Progress, the Obama plan would actually create 1.7 million jobs and benefit every state in the country.
Even Alaska? Yes, even Alaska. This as a new CBS News poll shows that most Americans think the governor resigned not for the good of her state, but for the good of Sarah Palin; 52 percent saying she did it for her political future. Even Republicans are skeptical. More saying she resigned for herself than she did for Alaska.
On that note, let‘s bring in Chris Hayes, the Washington editor for “The Nation Magazine.” Chris, good evening.
CHRIS HAYES, “THE NATION”: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: As I understand it, from what the governor has been saying in her resignations and postscripts, there was a higher calling. It would enable her to better serve Alaskans. There was no cannibalism involved. So it‘s no pun on the word served. Is this it? Is this it, what was in the Post today. Is she turning into a big oil shill?
HAYES: Well, I think transforming herself into a kind of polemical figure of the reactionary right, ideologically, and also trying to create some patina of substantive expertise. I think that‘s why you have the op-ed in the “Washington Post.”
There‘s some general sense that she knows something about energy, because she comes from a state that produces a tremendous amount of energy. So I think this was kind of her first step to try to create an image of the post-Governor Sarah Palin, who‘s sort of an expert that muses on national issues.
OLBERMANN: Now, the op in op-ed could have stood for facts optional here. Is the next logical stop here actual spokesmanship? I mean, is she going to be doing TV ads against cap and trade? If I‘m that actress, Brooke Alexander, who does the energy tomorrow ads, and she smoothly tells us we have to drill through oil right through all the bunnies and right through grandma‘s house‘s floor? Should I be thinking about trying to get my old job back hosting a show of soap opera highlights?
HAYES: Yes, you know, that wouldn‘t be so crazy to me if she were to end up doing that. One of the reasons, and she hinted this, are that legal costs are such that—you know, when you are a figure like Sarah Palin, and this is across the ideological spectrum and partisan divide, there‘s a lot of money to be made on the speaking circuit. There are people out there that are going to pay Sarah Palin tons of money, six figures, for sure, to come speak to them.
And there‘s a lot of money sloshing around right now the world of right-wing opposition, particularly corporate opposition, to things like health care, domestically, and climate change legislation. There‘s a lot of money to be had there. And there‘s a whole sort of cottage industry that‘s been set up on the right and in corporate America to oppose those kinds of reforms. That‘s a place that seems like kind of a natural space for her to occupy.
OLBERMANN: And you can get to that six-figure range with about a morning‘s work if you‘re doing a TV studio, cutting an ad, even an issue ad for somebody like Energy Tomorrow or whatever.
Put this in context, though. The other thing in the CBS News poll that was more remarkable than any of the numbers that we‘ve looked at already, overall favorable view of Governor Palin right now is 23 percent. The question was, would Palin have the ability to be an effective president? No, 65 percent, yes, 22 percent. Among Republicans, it was yes 33 percent, no 51 percent. What could she do to change those numbers or is that no longer part of this equation?
HAYES: Well, you know, politics is remarkable insofar as the capacity for self-transformation tends to be endless. It‘s hard to close a door on anyone. I think that there are things she can do. The most important thing for her is to create some perception of credibility, even if that‘s detached from actual expertise. And that‘s what we saw with the op-ed.
Keep in mind, 33 percent sounds like a very low number. And it is. Obviously, if you were running a campaign or an election against one other opponent. But when you‘re talking about how you get to the nomination of the Republican party, you have a kind of checkers situation, where you have to win Iowa or win New Hampshire early on, and that‘s a field with five or six candidates. You need a small number of very committed supporters.
So if the intensity of preference of the Republican base is strong enough, even if she‘s not overwhelmingly popular in the beginning, she has a shot early on.
OLBERMANN: To the other point, let‘s never forget, Ronald Reagan, your host of “General Electric Theater.” Chris Hayes of “The Nation,” as always, thanks for your time.
HAYES: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The United States Senate will soon take up legislative vital to the prevention of the spread of genetically engineered man-cows. Seriously.
And Newt Gingrich‘s plan to topple the regime in Iran by sabotaging that nation‘s only gas refinery. What do you mean it has nine gas refineries? Oops.
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, her special guest, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, on Dick Cheney‘s ability to keep a CIA program -- I don‘t think that‘s the right tape—programs secret—there he is—secret from Congress. First was the product of what he says, and then it was a picture of him.
OLBERMANN: In a time of domestic and international churning, with an economy wobbling and the criminality of the last administration far worse than we ever suspected, 21 United States senators are pushing a bill to make it illegal to create human hybrids. I say man bear pig today, man bear pig tomorrow, man bear pig forever.
That‘s next, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Newt Gingrich. He got a face full last not on Al Jazeera, suggesting that the correct American policy towards Iran should be about special ops and midnight raids and sabotage. Not exactly bombing Iran‘s oil refineries. Quote, “I called for sabotage, not bombing. Fundamental difference,” he corrected interviewer Abi Lewis (ph). “The only purpose of sabotaging them would be to create a gasoline-led crisis to try to replace the regime. I‘m against using tactics that don‘t have any strategic meaning.”
Whereupon Mr. Lewis said, “which you could precipitate by provoking a gas crisis with black ops sabotage?” Which is when interviewer Lewis laughed at Gingrich. His justification for doing so was amplified when Gingrich suggested Iran has only the one gas refinery, which he and Rambo would have to sabotage. And somebody had to break it to him that it actually has nine refineries.
The runner-up, the right-wing media. A little bonus here; when the South Carolina newspaper “The State” used the public records request to get e-mails sent to and from the Governor Mark “The Raging Bull of a Pompous” Sanford, while he was hiking the old Appalachian Trail. E-mails from conservative news outlets before they realized he was family values poison, trying to suck up to Sanford.
From a right wing TV host: “having known the governor for years, and even worked with him when he would host radio shows for me, I find this story and the media frenzy surrounding it to be absolutely ridiculous. Please give him my best.”
From a staffer at the “Washington Times,” “if you all want to speak on this publicly, you‘re welcome to ‘Washington Times‘ Radio. You know that you will be on friendly ground here.”
From Brendon Minitzer (ph), an opinion editor at the “Wall Street Journal,” “someone at WSJ should be fired for today‘s story. Ridiculous.”
Nice. Bury your own paper under the bus. Sadly, one more stroke job ended up in the e-mail trolling. “If the governor is looking for a friendly place to make light of what I think is a small story that got blown out of scale, I would be happy to have him on, in person, here, on the phone, or in South Carolina. Stay strong, signed Steven Colbert,” who just barely gets away with this because he is a native South Carolinian and an old school gentleman who mistakenly thought hiking the old Appalachian Trail meant hiking the old Appalachian Trail.
But our winners, Stefan Frederick Cook (ph), Major US Army Reserves, and his attorney Orley Tates (ph), who are seeking a federal court order in Georgia to delay and ultimately prevent his upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. Their premise, Major Cook believes, to quote the “McClatchy News,” that President Barack Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States and therefore is ineligible to serve as commander in chief of U.S. armed forces.
The document itself says Cook believes he would, quote, be acting in violation of international law by engaging in military actions outside of the United States under this president‘s command, simultaneously subjecting himself to possible prosecution as a war criminal by the faithful execution of these duties.
Lawyer Tate is an Obama birther who has filed other delusional lawsuits about the president‘s birth certificate, a certificate which has even been validated by the website World Net Daily. The Major Cook is reportedly a poster at the website we told you about yesterday, Free Republic.
When I was a kid in the ‘60s, thinking ahead towards possibly getting drafted, I thought, you know, if it comes to that, I‘m not going to make up some political context or pretext. I‘m not going to invent some sudden philosophical epiphany that I‘m an conscientious objector. I‘m just going to say, I really don‘t want to get shot and killed in Vietnam or anywhere else.
Too bad Major Cook doesn‘t have the guts to say that. Then he might be deserving of his rank, rather than an embarrassment to all those who have served without cowardice. Don‘t ask, don‘t tell is still throwing out men and women who are willing to die for their country, but somehow we have room for this jackass Cook, and the skirts of this con-woman Tate behind which he hides.
Just remember their slogan from last year, “Country First.”
Major Stefan Frederick Cook and his attorney Orley Tate, today‘s worst persons in the world.
OLBERMANN: As you know, the nation is currently in a state of abject crisis. A recent study by the board of irresponsible people found that Americans were worried about, in descending order, the economy, health care, terrorism, mermaids, climate change, Centaurs, cat women, Iraq, North Korea, Spidermen, man-cows, Werewolves, Big Foots, Sasquatches, and Humanzees.
A disturbing trend is emerging. Our number one story, but Senator Sam Brownback has stepped up to the plate and presented the Human/Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act of 2009. He has 20 Senate co-sponsors, because apparently jack-asses are still legal.
The former presidential candidate introducing a bill that would ban the formation of part human, part animal creatures which are created in laboratories and blur the line between species. Brownback trumpeting the bill via Twitter, Facebook, and his Senate blog. “This legislation is both philosophical and practical, as it has a direct bearing upon the very essence of what it means to be human. Creating human-animal hybrids, which permanently alter the genetic make-up of an organism, will challenge the very definition of what it means to be human and is a violation of human dignity and a grave injustice.”
Another grave injustice, the bill has 20 co-sponsors, including one Democrat, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Perhaps worried that the island of Dr. Meroux (ph) was some sort of documentary or sick reality show on E!.
Landrieu is joined by Senator John McCain, his side kick Lindsey Graham, who appeared on camera just perfectly there, as well as Senators Ensign and Coburn. Senator Coburn, of course, apparently had time, as did Senator Ensign, to support this bill on their way back from Fed-Ex.
This is the dream story. And we‘re joined now by comedian Christian Finnegan, because Simon McCorkendale (ph), the star of the old TV series “Manimal” was not available tonight. Christian, good evening.
CHRISTIAN FINNEGAN, COMEDIAN: Nice to be with you. I got lucky on that one.
OLBERMANN: Senator Landrieu‘s support of this is apparently explained by the fact that Governor Jindal of Louisiana just got a bill like this passed there. So I‘m guessing there have been a lot of human-animal hybrid sightings in Louisiana lately that nobody heard about?
FINNEGAN: Well, if you‘ve seen the HBO show “True Blood,” you know that Louisiana is a genetic freak show. But honestly, I think issues like this should be handled on the state level. I don‘t need the federal government telling me that I am not allowed to combine by DNA with a chimpanzee, be it in the lab or the old-fashioned way.
OLBERMANN: That‘s our old friend—
FINNEGAN: I‘m saying I want to have sex with animals, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Thank you. I was just going to say, Senator Santorum‘s conclusions. Has this legislation—does it overlook the human-animal hybrids who are already in existence? A situation like Teen Wolf. I mean, this not only effects Michael J. Fox, but also my buddy Jason Bateman. They‘re in big trouble here, aren‘t they?
FINNEGAN: Yes, I‘m sure Jason Bateman would love you to remind everyone of his tour de force performance in “Teen Wolf Too.” I think you‘re right. We all know that there are man-animals walking amongst us. Anyone who has seen Robin Williams with his shirt off can attest to that. I have heard—I have it on good authority that Tori Spelling is one quarter ostrich. If you‘ve been around a south Florida retirement community, you can attest to large colonies of lizard people.
OLBERMANN: There was similar legislation proposed also by Senator Brownback in 2007 that was never voted on. Should that have been his hint right there that this might be viewed with some mockery outside of those 20 people who support him in the Senate?
FINNEGAN: Well, I guess. But Keith, you‘ve got to remember, we were very busy in 2007. First of all, the economy was in terrible shape. Congress had yet to pass all that amazing health care reform. And if I‘m not mistaken, I think we were at war at the time, which just seems so weird now. But now that these things have finally been settled, we can concentrate on the most pressing issue facing humankind, centaur prevention.
OLBERMANN: You heard the—the list is economy, health care, terrorism, mermaids, climate change, Centaurs, Cat Women, Iraq—Iraq is like eighth on the list.
FINNEGAN: Absolutely. And you‘ve got to remember that Centaurs can only be felled by magic crossbows. That gets into stick Second Amendment --
OLBERMANN: Exactly. Is this going to be the wedge issue of 2012? Have we run through the rest of the culture wars? Not going to be illegal immigration anymore, but rather genetic migration?
FINNEGAN: I found it weird that Senator Brownback kept talking about the dignity of human life. Have you watched “America‘s Got Talent.” I think we are plum out of dignity. I feel like as humans we‘ve had a good run. Maybe it‘s time to give the Mermaids a run.
First of all, as you mentioned, Mermaids appear to be universally hot, and they appear to be kind of easy. They are sort of like Barnard College students.
OLBERMANN: Ultimately, why is Senator Sam Brownback trying to prevent Darrell Hanna from washing up on the shore outside my house?
FINNEGAN: It‘s tragic and sad.
OLBERMANN: An excellent point. Comedian Christian Finnegan, great thanks as always.
FINNEGAN: Always glad to be here.
OLBERMANN: That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 2,263rd day since the previous president—animal-human hybrids—previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I‘m Keith Olbermann—I don‘t know what made me think of that—good night and good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.